Assassin’s Creed has taken a year off of their “game every year” plan and as a result, completely changed almost every aspect of this long-running series. At its core, Assassin’s Creed Origins is the same as its predecessors: you have a target and it’s your job to end their life as quickly and as quietly as possible. However, AC: Origins is wrapped in a completely new package. From the new Dark Souls-esque combat to the new loot system that is more reminiscent of Destiny or Diablo then something from Assassin’s Creed. Regardless, even with so many changes, the game still feels like Assassin’s Creed but can it live up to its predecessors?
Assassin’s Creed has been a game that set the standard to open world games. With every new game, they added something new. However, like all good things, there is a limit you can take before the excitement of a new game fades away. Ubisoft took a year off to rethink what Assassin’s Creed is. With a hefty open world, bigger than I’ve ever seen in a game, and a new combat system the game has never felt so fresh.
Let’s start with the map. Have you ever explored a good amount in a game then looked at the map and realized you only explored one area? That is a consistent feeling in Assassin’s Creed Origins. The map of Egypt is astoundingly large, but also full of life. A common problem open world games have is lack of life. The map may be large and may have an amazing amount of side quests, but the world just never feels alive. This is not a problem in Assassin’s Creed Origins. Hippos and crocodiles rule the rivers and lakes, while everything from hyenas to lions stalk the land in the hunt for gazelle. Although the wildlife adds to the world, the real life of the world comes from the day to day life of the NPCs. Egyptians are farming and building their homes, priests are spreading the word of Rha and conducting chariot races, and the Roman legion conducts their sweeps of the city making sure their rule stays strong. All of these elements plus the look of the world gives AC: Origins a life I have rarely seen in open world games, with the exception The Witcher 3. An added element of immersion is AC: Origins’ day/night cycle. This is in a lot of games, however, the world reacts to this change. NPC’s will go to sleep, or just be doing something different altogether. This gave the illusion that the world is alive and understands the changes in their environment. It’s a small change that has completely altered my outlook on open world games and has sadly hampered all of my other open world game experiences.
The world is just one change Ubisoft made in Assassin’s Creed. The combat has been 100% overhauled. In previous Assassin’s Creed games, your combat was based on holding block until you could counter. As Ezio, I defended and killed 20 or more guards at a time with only getting hit once or twice, or at times not at all. This is not how Assassin’s Creed Origins conducts their combat. The new combat system relies on parrying to get behind your enemy to obtain an opening for attack. This isn’t the only mechanic you have to be worried about, however. You can no longer hold the block button and be safe from all attacks. With this new system, you have to always know where your attackers are attacking from. If a guard is flanking you your back is completely open for attack, even with your shield raised in a blocking stands. Heavy attacks also break stands, for both you and your enemy. If you see an opponent widening up for a massive attack you have to dodge out of the way, but this also works both ways. Smaller more agile guards can dodge your light attacks but heavy attacks are usually shieldless. The bigger brute guard brothers aren’t so weak and defenseless although they are not as agile and require attacking from their weak sides. All in all, the combat changes have made fighting more skilled based and engaging while also promoting the use of stealth without forcing you to do so. It’s a brilliant addition to Assassin’s Creed.
Assassin’s Creed has always focused on the story, even if they tend to forget tales they have already told and created plot holes. Regardless, every Assassin’s Creed game does an amazing job telling a story within the game itself. From compelling side quests to engaging story missions, Assassin’s Creed Origins really puts the story into everything they do. Ancient temples give more insight into the precursor race than past Assassin’s Creed games have introduced. However, even with the story being the driving force of the game it at times loses its way. Personally, I feel the focus should be how the Creed was founded, however, it seems to be more of a story about Bayek’s personal wants and creating a Creed of Assassins doesn’t seem to be a priority. Bayek’s motivations are based on avenging his family but after a few mission, his drive seems to fade. This is a jarring emotional change and one I don’t fully understand. With a story already in the Assassin’s Creed universe about getting justice for your family with Assassin’s Creed II, I’m sure Ubisoft wanted to tell a different story. Unfortunately, they don’t explain what’s going on in Bayek’s mind enough to understand his choices or where he is at emotionally. This is something I struggle with a lot of Assassin’s Creed games. Ubisoft seems to care more about world building than character development. As much as I personally dislike this direction it only has a small impact on the game.
All in all, Assassin’s Creed Origins has been the best and most positive step forward in the Assassin’s Creed franchise since Assassin’s Creed II. From combat in the world to story, Assassin’s Creed Origins exceeds all expectations and as a fan, my expectations are sometimes unrealistically high. Minus some personal gripes with the story and character motivation, Assassin’s Creed Origins has turned the series upside down and I couldn’t be happier nor more excited about what is to come. If you haven’t paid attention to Assassin’s Creed’s past few entries this is one you won’t want to skip. The future is bright and hopes are high; here’s hoping they have learned their lesson on what works and what doesn’t. Although it seems that the sky’s the limit for Assassin’s Creed.